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mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

André Malraux's homage to Jean Moulin

André Malraux


View this work in the Bathing exhibition

The work

The speech to mark the transfer of Jean Moulin's ashes to the Panthéon is Malraux's most famous. On the morning of 19 December 1964, in the Place du Panthéon in Paris, in front of de Gaulle, a good part of the government and hundreds of schoolchildren, Malraux spoke eloquently about the role of the Resistance and canonizes its leader Jean Moulin:

"It is the funeral march of these ashes you see before you. Alongside those of Carnot with the soldiers of the Year II, those of Victor Hugo with his Misérables, and those of Jaurès under the guardian eye of justice, may they rest here with their long cortège of disfigured shadows. Today, young people of France, may you think of this man as you would have reached out your hands to his poor, unrecognizable face on that last day, to those lips that never let fall a word of betrayal: on that day, his was the face of France..."

It has to be said that there was much at stake politically at this time: the 1965 presidential elections were approaching and the polls were far from favorable...

The artist

Born in Paris in 1901, André Malraux, an adventurer and art dealer in his youth, later a writer, Resistance fighter and minister in General de Gaulle's government, was an archetypal French intellectual. As a young boy, he showed a great love of reading but would not manage to get into high school. He moved in literary circles and survived by obtaining books for bibliophiles.

In the early 1920s, he left for Cambodia where he had a spell in prison for stealing some Khmer sculptures. In Indochina, he directed an anticolonial publication, then returned to France where he wrote La condition humaine (translated into English as Man's Fate), which won the Prix Goncourt in 1933. An anti-fascist, he went to fight in the Spanish Civil War, leading the España squadron, an episode in his life that was to inspire the novel L'Espoir (Man's Hope).

During the war, he joined the Resistance late (in March 1944) and eventually commanded the Alsace-Lorraine Brigade. His decisive meeting with General de Gaulle led to his appointment as Minister of Propaganda and Information after the war, and he joined de Gaulle's RPF party. As Minister of Culture from 1959 to 1969, he founded the Maisons de la Culture, applied the law on the cleaning of apartment building facades and issued public commissions to artists (e.g. Marc Chagall for the ceiling of the Opéra Garnier in Paris) while continuing to write. Plagued by illness, he died in 1976.